Postal scams in spotlight

The 'Think Jessica Campaign' and other organisations held a conference at the Webster theatre on Monday tho highlight the dangers of postal scams. The main speakers were pictured before the event, From left: Marilyn Baldwin, Mark Hodgkisson, Matt Lancashire, Dougie McClounie, Clare McParltlin, Brian Smith.
The 'Think Jessica Campaign' and other organisations held a conference at the Webster theatre on Monday tho highlight the dangers of postal scams. The main speakers were pictured before the event, From left: Marilyn Baldwin, Mark Hodgkisson, Matt Lancashire, Dougie McClounie, Clare McParltlin, Brian Smith.

a CAMPAIGN highlighting the dangers postal scams pose to the elderly and vulnerable was launched this week by Angus Council.

Angus trading standards joined forces with the ‘Think Jessica Campaign’ for the event in Arbroath in Monday which included representatives of other local authority trading standards services, social work and health, housing, National Health Service, Scottish Police Service and voluntary and private organisations.

Councillor David May, the council’s environmental and consumer protection spokesman, said the aim is to raise awareness of postal confidence tricks and deter members of the public from responding to them.

He said: “All too many vulnerable people are taken in by postal scams, which can deprive them of significant sums of money.

“Unlike with junk mail, there is no means of preventing scam mail from reaching targeted households. I hope that by heightening awareness of these postal scams, people will think hard before sending money to claim fake prizes from bogus lotteries, competitions and catalogues.”

The guest speaker was Marilyn Baldwin, founder of the ‘Think Jessica Campaign’, who discussed the charity’s background as well as its new initiative, “Silence of the Scams”.

Her charity was initially set up after she discovered her mother, Jessica Looke, was a chronic victim of postal scams and her talk was from a personal point of view.

A widow, Mrs Looke, 83, from Derby, died thousands of pounds in debt after receiving more than 30 scam letters a day and sending out most of her weekly pension to criminals. She became anxious and her health deteriorated when her money began to run out and her family are sure the stress was partly to blame for Mrs Looke’s death from pneumonia in 2007.

Mark Hodgkinson, Angus Council’s adult protection review officer, talked about the legislation which is used to protect vulnerable adults from scams. He also explained the role of Adult Support and Protection and how assistance is offered to those requiring it.

Other speakers included Citizens’ Advice Scotland social policy officer Matt Lancashire and PC Dougie McClounie from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency who talked about the links between scam mail and organised crime.

Anyone with concerns about anyone who is responding to these scams should contact Angus Council trading standards through the ACCESSline, telephone 08452 777 778.